The fashion and clothing industries are often associated with various historical, as well as contemporary, ethical issues. Ranging from the infamously poor treatment of workers in Third World sweatshops, to the hotly-debated and problematic issue of cultural appropriation, fashion is pretty steeped in moral issues.
In order to combat this image, there is an international ethical fashion movement that aims to promote sustainable and ethical business models. This movement begins with the Ethical Fashion Initiative – a flagship programme of the International Trade Centre, which was founded in 2009 by Simone Cipriani.
Cipriani has a long history working around the world, particularly in the leather industry, and has previously worked alongside micro-producers in Africa, connecting their products with western fashion companies, ensuring fair pay within an ethical supply chain.
Cipriani describes the Ethical Fashion Initiative as ‘not charity, just work’, with his programme seeking to promote sustainability both socially and environmentally in the fashion industry. Alongside the International Trade Centre programme, is the Ethical Fashion Forum (EFF) – the industry body for ethical fashion, which promotes positive change through good business practices.
Ethical fashion isn’t just a buzzword – it is a movement that extends into all areas of the fashion industry. Through its commitment to good business, ethical fashion represents an approach to design, sourcing and manufacturing clothing that is sustainable as well as morally acceptable.
Such an approach means ensuring fair wages for makers and designers, encouraging proper recycling to reduce wastage, developing eco-friendly fabrics, protecting animal rights, and fighting against the quick and cheap clothing that saturates the market.
In addition to the Ethical Fashion Initiative and EFF’s work, there are various fashion brands and retailers who support and promote ethical fashion. YOOX is one such example. The leading retailer has recently teamed up with Australian clothing brand We Are Handsome, as well as the Great Barrier Reef Foundation, to launch Yoox Loves the Reef.
The initiative promotes conservation and protection of the Great Barrier Reef, which is the largest living organism on the planet, by donating part of the proceeds from the sales of this collection to the Great Barrier Reef Foundation.
In addition to retailers like YOOX, some of the biggest names in the fashion industry have pledged to promote ethical fashion. Alongside the likes of Stella McCartney and Vivienne Westwood, sass & bide – who are also an Australian design label – are working alongside Simone Cipriani and the Ethical Fashion Initiative partnering makers across Sub-Saharan Africa.
Sass & bide’s partnership with artisanal makers and micro-producers has led to some amazing collaborations, and through this work, the design label is ensuring responsible and sustainable trade partnerships.
Ethical fashion is all about ensuring a long-term commitment to sustainability within the fashion industry. With this reach extending from the designers and brands all the way to the retailers themselves, this movement is helping to create an ethical, and sustainable approach to business practice that will hopeful change the industry for the better.